Sam Goldman


d.light is a for-profit social enterprise that designs, manufactures and distributes solar lights and power products to the developing world.

Focus: Energy, Development, Technology
Geographic Area of Impact: Global
Model: Social Business
Number of Direct Beneficiaries: 15,600,000 (2013)

The United Nations Millennium Development Goals identify electricity as essential to eradicating poverty. More than 1.5 billion people lack access to electricity, and 400 million of those are in India. Most households rely on kerosene lanterns to meet their lighting needs. These sources of light are low quality and the pollution they generate causes innumerable health hazards and contributes to the global carbon footprint. Moreover, affected families spend between 20% to 30% of their wages on kerosene and candles.

Innovation and Activities
Founded in 2007 as a for-profit social enterprise, d.light manufactures and distributes solar lighting and power products designed to serve the more than 2 billion people globally without access to reliable electricity. Through over a dozen field offices and four distribution hubs in Africa, China, South Asia and the United States, d.light has sold 6 million solar light and power products in nearly 60 countries, improving the lives of nearly 30 million people. d.light is dedicated to providing the most reliable, affordable and accessible solar lighting and power systems for the developing world and reaching 100 million people by 2020.

d.light has developed a range of solar lighting products at different price points, including the d.light D20, a solar home system with one portable light and two fixed lights; the S300, a solar lantern and mobile phone charger; the S20, which has no recurring costs and produces eight hours of light on a single charge; and the S2. At $8, the S2 is the world’s most affordable high-quality solar light.

d.light’s distributes its products via retail partners (e.g. gas stations, agricultural cooperatives, NGOs) and
augments those sales channels with marketing campaigns, field training, and post-sales services. Moreover, less than 0.5% units break during the 3-year warranty.) Over 10,000 retail outlets currently sell 500,000 d.light solar lights a month.

By replacing a kerosene lamp with a d.light product, a consumer can expect to experience cost savings of up to $150 over five years, increased safety from the elimination of accidental fires caused by kerosene lamps, and better health.

The Entrepreneurs
After taking a Stanford cross-disciplinary course called Design for Extreme Affordability, Sam Goldman and Ned Tozun, members of the Stanford MBA Class of '07, founded d.light, a company specializing in affordable off-grid lighting. Ned partnered with Sam to secure private investment for the company, built up the manufacturing operations, and oversaw the expansion of distribution into over 40 countries. They have been recognized by Forbes as one of the world’s top 30 social entrepreneurs and Sam has been selected as an Ashoka Fellow and World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. Donn Tice, who had been an adviser and board member since 2008 and Chairman since 2010, stepped in as CEO in 2011. His passion for BOP consumers began as a United Nations Intern, and from mentoring by the late C.K. Prahalad, author of The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid. Donn recruited an experienced local (in-market) executive team, developing new approaches to distribution andsupply chain that have combined to create rapid growth. Under Donn’s leadership, d.light has sold over 6 million products, improving the lives of nearly 30 million. In 2013, d.light was awared the $1.5 million Zayed Future Energy Prize.